Grey box

Scientific name

Eucalyptus moluccana, E. woolsiana ssp. Microcarpa. Family: Myrtaceae

Other names

Gum-topped box


  • Medium-sized tree growing to 20–30m high.
  • Stem grows to 1m diameter.
  • Trunk is generally straight and of good form.
  • Bark is finely tessellated, grey box-type.
  • Bark is persistent to the base of the branches, where it changes to a smooth light grey bark which is often shed in ribbons.


  • Eucalyptus moluccana occurs throughout the central and northern coastal areas of New South Wales and Eastern Queensland, from Jervis Bay in the south to Atherton Tableland in the north.
  • Eucalyptus woolsiana ssp. microcarpa is common in the wheatbelts of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. It also has a limited occurrence in the Flinders and Mt Lofty Ranges of South Australia.



  • Heartwood is usually pale brown but sometimes yellowish.
  • Sapwood usually distinct and lighter in colour.


  • Fine, uniform, even textured, usually interlocked.


  • Engineering: as sawn and round timber used to construct wharves and bridges, railway sleepers, poles, piles, mining timbers.
  • Construction: as unseasoned timber in general house framing, and as seasoned dressed timber in cladding, internal and external flooring, lining and joinery. Also in fencing, landscaping and retaining walls.
  • Decorative: outdoor furniture, turnery, joinery.
  • Others: boat building (keel and framing components, planking), carriage building, mallet heads, mauls, sporting goods, croquet mallets, paving blocks, fuelwood.


  • Density: 1105kg/m3 at 12% moisture content; about 1.0m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne.
  • Strength groups: E. moluccana—S2 unseasoned, SD2 seasoned; E. woolsiana ssp. macrocarpa—(S2) unseasoned, (SD2) seasoned.
  • Stress grades: F11, F14, F17, F22 (unseasoned); F17, F22, F27, F34 (seasoned) when visually stress graded according to AS 2082—2000: Timber—Hardwood—Visually stress-graded for structural purposes.
  • Joint groups: J1 unseasoned, JD1 seasoned.
  • Shrinkage to 12% MC: 7.4% (tangential), 0.23% (radial)—these values are for E. moluccana only.
  • Unit shrinkage: 0.43% (tangential), 0.23% (radial)—these values apply to timber of E. moluccana reconditioned after seasoning.
  • Durability above-ground: Class 1 (life expectancy over 40 years).
  • Durability in-ground: Class 1 (life expectancy over 25 years).
  • Lyctine susceptibility: sapwood is susceptible to lyctid borer attack.
  • Termite resistance: resistant.
  • Preservation: sapwood readily impregnates with preservative.
  • Seasoning: satisfactorily dries using conventional air and kiln seasoning.
  • Hardness: very hard (rated 1 on a 6-class scale) to indent and work with hand tools.
  • Machining: machines and dresses well.
  • Fixing: no difficulty using standard fittings and fastenings.
  • Gluing: as with most high-density species, machine and prepare surface immediately before gluing.
  • Finishing: readily accepts paint, stain and polish.

Identification features

General characteristics

  • Sapwood: pale grey-brown.
  • Heartwood: light brown to yellow-brown.
  • Texture: uniform and fine; grain generally interlocked.

Wood structure

  • Vessels: small, numerous, mostly solitary; heavily tylosed.
  • Parenchyma (soft tissue): not visible with hand lens.
  • Rays: very fine.

Other features

  • Burning splinter test: match-size splinter burns to buff ash.

Research and resources

  • Boland, DJ, Brooker, MIH, Chippendale, GM, Hall, N, Hyland, BPM, Johnston, RD, Kleinig, DA and Turner, JD 2006, Forest trees of Australia, 5th ed., CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
  • Bootle, K 2005, Wood in Australia: Types, properties and uses, 2nd ed., McGraw-Hill, Sydney.
  • Ilic, J 1991, CSIRO atlas of hardwoods, Crawford House Press, Bathurst, Australia.
  • Queensland Government, DAF 2018, Construction timbers in Queensland: Properties and specifications for satisfactory performance of construction timbers in Queensland. Class 1 and Class 10 buildings, Books 1 & 2, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.